Ireland buys vaccines for terror war

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November 11 2001 IRELAND

Ireland buys vaccines for terror war

Brian Dowling, Irish Political Editor

THE government has bought 5.2m of smallpox vaccines to prepare for a possible outbreak of biological war.

The 600,000 vials arrived in the country on Friday evening and were transported to secret high-security locations where they will be stored in specially designed fridges. Smallpox, which was eradicated more than three decades ago, is so contagious that the stock will have to be tightly guarded against theft.

The purchase forms part of an emergency plan to equip the country to deal with unconventional war in the wake of terrorist attacks on America. Osama Bin Laden, the militant Islamic leader believed to be responsible for the September 11 atrocities, claimed in an interview with a Pakistani newspaper last week that his organisation had nuclear and chemical weapons and was prepared to use them.

The emergency plan, drawn up by an expert committee led by Dr Bill Hall, envisages that one hospital in each health board region will be designated as a quarantine area in the event of an outbreak of contagious disease. The draft proposals, which are currently being finalised, also provide for a complete shutdown of the country should a biological attack occur in neighbouring countries such as Britain.

This would involve the closing of all land, sea and air access points to contain any outbreak.

Each health board will also have special medical teams, or frontline staff, who will be trained to respond to a biological attack and vaccinated against contagious diseases. The government has also ordered extra stocks of blood products to counter ebola, a blood disease.

More than 2.4m doses of ciprofloxacin antibiotics have already been purchased at a cost of 3m to treat anthrax, which has caused the death of a number of Americans.

The special emergency committee is tendering for the supply of up to 10m iodine tablets, which would limit the risk of contracting cancer in the event of a nuclear attack. These are expected to cost up to 8m.

A fact sheet, outlining what should be done in the event of a disaster, will be sent to every household in the next few weeks.

http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2001/11/11/stiireire01015.html

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), November 11, 2001


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